"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
-Isaiah 40: 3, 5
Can you feel it? We're almost there! No, I'm not talking about the end of 2020, which we're all looking forward to, I'm sure. I'm talking about Christmas Day! As Christians, we don't start celebrating Christmas until Christmas Day itself, and we keep it going for 12 days until Epiphany. That is our Christmas Season.
Why does this matter? Who cares if we start singing Christmas songs in November, right? What's with all that purple in church during Advent anyway - I wanna see festive red and green! The world around us goes into full "Christmas" mode after Thanksgiving, with glittering lights, hectic shopping, and non-stop Christmas-related tunes. And then, come December 25, after presents have been exchanged and snowflake-shaped cookies have been eaten, it's all over! The world moves on to the next commercial holiday.
But that is not our narrative as Christians. That is not the season we celebrate leading up to Christmastide. Advent isn't just a word we use in church. It's a state of mind and an introspective time for each one of us. It's a time to prepare our hearts for the Infant King and to open a path within ourselves for God to enter in. We wait in eager anticipation. We look to what is coming. We hear prophesies of old that will lead to the humble birth of the Word Incarnate. We prepare not for the presents and Christmas pajamas that the world would have us believe are important, but instead for the Light of the World that will always bring us hope, no matter the depths of darkness we find ourselves in.
Is there a clear path into your heart to welcome the Christ Child? Take a step back this Sunday as we quietly light the fourth Advent candle. Dig into that feeling of anticipation for a brighter future. If we purposefully orient our hearts and minds during the Advent season and prepare a space for our King, we may find something more profound on Christmas Day than any present, card, or family dinner over Zoom could ever offer.